China's commitment

But Zhang did not say when Beijing would make good its supposed commitment to withdraw its vessels from the shoal, which China calls Huangyan Island.

As of Thursday, China had seven government ships outside the shoal's lagoon and 20 to 26 fishing boats in the lagoon, according to the DFA.

The Philippines had no other vessels at the shoal. Filipino fishermen have been staying away from the shoal since the government declared a fishing ban in the area in May.

China has also declared a fishing ban in nearly the entire West Philippine Sea, including Scarborough Shoal, but Chinese fishermen continue to operate in the area in what Beijing calls "normal fishing."

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario announced the presidential decision to call the two Philippine vessels home on Saturday.

"When the weather improves, a reevaluation will be made," Del Rosario said in a statement from the DFA.

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